Throwback Thursday to an interview with Strung Out! We took a look through the archives of San Diego Punk to bring you throwback interviews and reviews from our history. Today we picked an interview with Strung Out from June 2002. You can see Strung Out, Pennywise, Unwritten Law, and Runaway Kids at House Of Blues San Diego tonight (November 17th)!
Original interview by Brandon Grigg
San Diego Punk: Let’s start off with you introducing yourselves.
Jake Kiley: I’m Jake and I play guitar.
Jordan Burns: I’m Jordan and I play drums.
San Diego Punk: On your new album, American Paradox, was there anything in particular that you guys wanted to accomplish that you didn’t feel you had on your past albums?
Jake: Umm..sort of. I think we just kind of wanted to summarize what we’ve done in the past and put together the best elements of the past records and also touch on some new ground and just see what would happen. We’re all really happy with it.
Jordan: I think with us as a band, the object is always to try and stay creative and to create good music and keep it interesting and different.
Jake: And not repeat ourselves.
Jordan: And not be afraid to experiment a little bit.
Jake: I think it’s one of our more experimental records.
Jordan: The thing is, I think you can really listen to each one of our albums and hear a good definition between them. From Another Day to Suburban to Twisted to Elements to where we are today.
Jake: Hopefully each one represents itself.
San Diego Punk: Was there any particular reason you guys decided to produce this album yourselves?
Jake: Well we’ve worked with a lot of great producers in the past and this time we just got together with Donnell Cameron, who has done a lot of amazing records, and just put all our heads together and went directly to him for it instead of going through some other guy to get the sound. It was really fun. We’ll probably work with some more guys again, but it was just part of the creative process.
Jordan: It was just basically how it worked out for this album. We all feel like the production of it came out really well. We’re proud of it.
Jake: We wanted to have total control of it.
San Diego Punk: What was the state of mind and writing process during the making of The Elements Of Sonic Defiance and how did they differ from the making of American Paradox?
Jake: Well at any given time we write what we’re feeling inside us and it just comes through the music. The stuff we were writing during the Elements session was really dark and heavy because we were going through some dark times at that point. I just think the music reflects whatever we’re going through. It wasn’t really different as far as the writing process. We always just get together and stuff just comes out of us naturally.
San Diego Punk: Wasn’t the writing of Cemetery kind of an impromptu thing?
Jordan: Cemetery was created when Chris was playing this riff in the studio and I started jamming to it and it sounded pretty cool. Then Rob started playing to it and next thing you know we just went into this freestyle jam and Donnell happened to hit the record button and we just jammed for a few minutes. We kept going and everyone was like Wow that was fucking cool. We basically just burned a CD of that jam and took it home that night and arranged it between us and went back the next day and recorded it. We haven’t written too many songs that were just like wham bam like that.
Jake: Yeah, that was the first time that’s ever really happened, just spontaneously writing a song in the studio.
San Diego Punk: Was there a particular reason you guys picked that song to make the video for?
Jake: We all kind of felt it was a special song because of the way it was written and it’s different from the rest of the record and it has a sound that I think would appeal to a broader spectrum of people. I don’t know, it just felt right.
Jordan: Everyone just had a gut feeling on that song, like that may be appealing to the masses. Not that it’s necessarily going off to the masses, and I guess when I say masses I mean it in a radio or MTV sense. It’s getting some spins and it’s getting a good amount of MTV2 play. I guess MTV2 is all by request so if you do the online vote or whatever, that kind of stuff always helps out. It’s working out, it’s the second video we’ve ever made in our whole career so.
Jake: It’s the first time we’ve ever got any video play at all so it’s pretty exciting. You can’t really expect too much from the major mainstream stations that get flooded with stuff. A lot of it’s major label stuff that gets first priority, but it’s just awesome to have it out there and we’ve gotten a great response so far.
San Diego Punk: Is there a time you’ll feel as though Strung Out has made it’s mark?
Jake: I think we’ll always keep raising the bar. We’re definitely happy with the level we’re at right now, we’ve gotten to take it really far. But even by doing that, now I look forward to taking it to the next level and getting it out to more and more people all the time.
San Diego Punk: Are you guys writing at all for the next record?
Jake: Yeah, we’ve got a few songs together and a bunch of ideas. We’re always writing, and then when we get done with our touring schedule then we’ll get together and get ready for the next record.
Jordan: I don’t ever want to be satisfied with the level we’re at. We’ve made it to an amazing level, it’s a big accomplishment to be where we are at this point. I think if we were just all satisfied at staying where we are then.
Jake: Then it would be boring.
Jordan: I think you always want to excel and step to the next level.
Jake: I think we’ll always take it to the next level, maybe not in popularity but in musical diversity. It’s always a challenge for us to come up with a better record.
San Diego Punk: How does it feel to have a lot of younger bands naming Strung Out as an influence and looking up to you guys?
Jake: It’s really cool. It’s great to be able to kind of give back since we were inspired by so many bands growing up and then being able to inspire a whole new generation is really great. I’m pretty proud of that.
Jordan: It’s really cool. A lot of younger kids and people in general are like getting our logo tattooed on them and we’ll see anywhere from one to seven of those every night of the tour. I don’t know, that’s gnarly.
Jake: Hopefully we can inspire kids to do their own thing and put together music that isn’t just sounding exactly like us, I don’t want bands to just go out and copy us, but maybe look at what we did and just kind of put together different elements and types of music and hopefully they’ll be inspired to do their own thing.
Jordan: I also look at like the tattoos and stuff and I’ve been asking people questions like what was the inspiration behind it, and a lot of people make quotes of the two paragraphs Jason wrote on our web-site explaining what the astrolux means. For people to go on there and read that and then for us to hear about people connecting with that kind of thing is awesome.
San Diego Punk: What were some of the bands that influenced you guys?
Jake: Early on I was really into speed metal like Slayer and old Metallica and then getting into punk rock there was The Misfits, Descendents, Bad Religion, Social Distortion. We all come from different musical backgrounds though.
Jordan: There’s such a wide taste of musical variety between us. There’s people in the band who like everything from the Outfield to Black Flag, to Hall and Oats. You can’t be close minded in music because there’s so many forms.
Jake: There’s so much great stuff out there, good melodies, good lyrics.
Jordan: It’s good to expose yourself to all different kinds.
San Diego Punk: Do you think that incorporating different styles into your music has been a big part of your being able to appeal to people? Like I have a friend who’s totally into Metal and he doesn’t like punk rock, but he heard Twisted By Design and was like, “That dude can play some Metal.”
Jake: Yeah, I mean I think it’s a great thing to be able to appeal to different crowds and different scenes and not just be pigeonholed into one thing. Luckily we’ve been able to win over a lot of different metal kids and punk kids.
Jordan: It’s really good to hear that kind of stuff.
Jake: Because it’s not strictly punk. I mean it’s influenced by some punk but it’s also influenced by a ton of Metal and hopefully it’s its own thing.
San Diego Punk: Percentage wise, how much does music play a role in your life?
Jake: It’s a huge part. Even besides playing in the band, we’re all big fans of music and we go out to shows and buy a lot of CDs. I’m always interested in the new stuff that’s coming out.
San Diego Punk: What’s some of the new stuff you guys are listening to right now?
Jake: I like a lot of the newer Metal bands, like Shadows Fall is pretty rad.
Jordan: And Thrice.
Jake: Yeah and Thrice. I’m into more darker and heavier stuff. Poison the Well is amazing.
San Diego Punk: Yeah I love Poison the Well.
Jordan: Yeah Poison the Well rips. I don’t think any of us were very familiar with them before they came on tour with us and they just kick major ass.
Jake: Yeah they definitely rock. It’s great to have a tour like this where there’s different bands drawing different crowds but still complimenting each other to make the whole show work.
San Diego Punk: Are there any other bands that would be considered a different genre that you want to tour with?
Jake: Yeah, like I think we’re taking Snapcase up to Canada with us who I think are also the right kind of band that can work with us but it’s different enough to be it’s own thing and draw some different kids. We’re taking Rise Against with us again also. There’s all kinds of bands out there.
Jordan: My number one tour that I’d like to do is Strung Out and AFI.
Jake: Yeah that would be really good.
Jordan: I think that would be awesome.
Jake: I’d like to do some shows with the Deftones. We did a tour with Papa Roach like a year and a half ago and that was really good for us. We’re all about playing with just different aggressive bands.
San Diego Punk: Are there any belief systems or ideals that you despise or completely disagree with, and what’s worth fighting for?
Jake: Not really. I’m not overly political or anything like that. Just whatever gets you through the day and makes you happy and gives you peace is the most important thing.
San Diego Punk: You don’t really bring that kind of stuff into the music?
Jake: Naw, not through our music. Our music is more just emotions, things we’ve dealt with and personal stuff. We’re not straight edge or anything or into preaching any type of lifestyle.
Jordan: I think people get their own message or feeling or emotion out of our music and there’s some heavy duty emotions flying from the fans. We’ve gotten letters that just bring chills to you. I just got a gnarly e-mail yesterday about this kid telling us our music saved his life and that he was suicidal and always down and that he heard Suburban Teenage Wasteland Blues and it was just like his antidote. We’ve gotten numerous letters like that and it’s so rewarding.
Jake: Yeah it’s awesome.
Jordan: To hear that the music we create can bring someone from a total downer to being happy is like man I don’t know.
Jake: It means a lot. Hopefully kids can take their own meaning from our songs.
San Diego Punk: Do you guys feel any pressure having people say those things about the old albums, that on the next album you have to make it as meaningful and relevant?
Jake: Yeah, but the thing is you can’t write with that in mind. When we write it’s just whatever comes out of us. We don’t try to premeditate it to be like other songs, it just kind of comes out. We want to top each record but you just have to see what comes out naturally, that’s what works best for us.
Jordan: Not to totally pat ourselves on the back, but I feel like we’ve done a pretty good job of stepping it up a level each time we’ve put out a new release. Some bands just kind of level out or drop off or maybe take a step up and then a step down. But I feel like especially through the fan support that we’ve just kept stepping it up, and that’s a good thing.
Jake: Everyone has their different favorite record of ours, but I don’t think anyone can say we’ve put out the same record. We always give it variety. It’s awesome to hear from the fans because we’ll check our web-site and certain kids will love some albums and not the others and then some other kids will love the other albums but not these ones. It’s cool to draw such a wide variety of kids, it’s not like we have one really obvious hit song, everyone likes a different song for a different reason.
San Diego Punk: For the last question, how do you guys feel about San Diego and does it hold any kind of special place in your heart?
Jake: It’s pretty special to me because it’s one of the first places we ever played back before Jordan was even in the band. We got to play down here with Pennywise at the old old Soma and it was one of our first club gigs ever. We got a great response then and we’ve been here like 15 times since and it’s always been a super good show.
Jordan: San Diego has become a super strong market for us and the kids down here are so supportive of us right now.
Jake: It’s a super great scene.
Jordan: It’s cool to have so many people coming out to see us wherever we play. We’re stoked that people come anywhere we play, you got to be happy about it.
Jake: It’s definitely a dream come true to be packing in the shows now, this tour has been sold out pretty much everywhere we’ve gone and I think tonight sold out in advance, so thanks you guys.
San Diego Punk: Any closing comments?
Jake: Just thanks for all the support from everyone over the years.
Jordan: Just to go check out our web-site, leave a message on the message board. We tend to read the message board a bunch, we may not post there too much but we definitely read it.